Those Who Should Have Played Barry Glickman in ‘The Prom,’ Instead of James Corden

Though many are praising The Prom for its upbeat soundtrack and story of acceptance, James Corden’s casting as Barry Glickman has been quite contentious. Critics have deemed his account of the flamboyant and gay Barry Glickman homophobic — which only subverts the film’s pure-hearted intentions. Corden continues to face condemnation for his gayface depiction of the character. Many have since gone on to argue that casting an LGBTQ actor as Glickman — for both representation and performance purposes — would have been a wiser choice. So, who should have stepped up to the plate? 

James Corden
James Corden poses backstage at the hit musical ‘The Prom’ | Bruce Glikas/WireImage

1. Nathan Lane would have been a perfect screen partner to Meryl Streep

Nathan Lane has appeared frequently on Broadway and West End stages. He recently starred in the Angels in America revival — both in London and NYC. He’s comfortable when it comes to live performance and boasts the chops necessary to carry and transfer theatrical energy to the silver screen. Lane is pure charisma — his Hollywood persona extends through any character he takes on, making all of his screen and stage turns loveable and memorable. 

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Not to mention, he would have been a perfect partner to Streep. At 64 years young, Lane could have carried the shtick of an “industry familiar” with a little more conviction than Corden. 

2. Alan Cumming would have brought a unique flair to Glickman 

Though Alan Cumming may not be the first visual that comes to mind when imagining Barry Glickman, his dignified smirk and raised eyebrow could have easily added a layer of intrigue to the character’s otherwise one-dimensional extravagance. He would have been a person with varying qualities, as opposed to a stereotypical caricature. And, who could forget Cumming’s take on the Emcee in Cabaret? He’s got the energy, the sexual verve, and the joie de vivre necessary for Glickman. He’s the dark horse candidate that would have been a pleasant and satisfying surprise. 

3. Harvey Fierstein: an obvious, if not too typical, choice

Harvey Fierstein is well known for his deep and gravelly talk-singing voice that has graced the likes of Hairspray’s Edna Turnblad and Mulan’s Yao. While he may have sung in a style to starkly contrasting the others, his approach to singing would have added a layer of humor and over-the-top absurdity perfectly aligned with the movie’s whole shtick. He has carried flamboyant characters with ease — instilling humor without sacrificing sincerity. It’s almost too easy to imagine Fierstein uttering lines like “Old Barry’s done some flirting” and “you can wear the pair of spanks I currently have on.”